Exploring, Cleaning, Paperwork, Getting settled

Trip Start Aug 13, 2010
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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Thursday, August 26, 2010

August 26, 2010

    What a day. I woke up early naturally and waited until about 9:15 to see if Rodger was going to come by-- he had said he would at 9 or 2pm. When he didn't show up, I decided to take a walk to find a little bit of breakfast. I wandered across the street from the school and walked past several shops and small places to eat. Pretty soon, I found myself in an enclosed market with rows of people selling vegetables and fruits and meat. I walked up and down the aisles, looking for bananas-- the easiest fruit to eat. I bought 3 (1.8 yuan). I was feeling really awkward and uncomfortable and was really conscious of the fact that I couldn't understand Chinese. In the market, there was also a woman selling sweet breads. I only wanted one but somehow I got two. I think maybe because I took out 1 yuan and it was 2 rolls for 1 yuan. I was really uncertain and awkward, of course, when I bought it. The bread was soft and sweet and quite nice for a small breakfast. Afterwards, I went into a store to look around-- there were several things that I still needed. I picked up a bag of laundry powder-- I chose Tide, because I was certain that it was laundry detergent and I couldn't read any other labels. It was really frustrating not being able to read. I was looking for some all purpose cleaner but couldn't figure out, based on the labels, which to buy. I didn't know how to ask for it either. I found a bottle that had the label "kitchen cleaner" and bought that-- I tried asking a woman for bathroom cleaner but I only knew the word for bathroom. She was a really nice lady who kept trying to help me but the language barrier was just too much. I bought a few other things and left, feeling like I had just visited the dollar store. As I walked back to school, I ran into Andrew, who was making friends again with the local Chinese shop owners. We walked back to school together and I began cleaning.
    I used a good deal of kitchen cleaner not only in the kitchen, but also in the bathroom. I sprayed excessively and attempted to wipe away years of grime and rust. I managed to get rid of some grossness but not all. After maybe 40 minutes of cleaning, Rodger came up and asked if I wanted to go to the school canteen for lunch. I quickly got ready and went with Donna, Jonathan, Derek and Rodger to get lunch. It cost 4 yuan (less than $1) for a scoop of rice and various meat/vegetable dishes. It was not bad for a school lunch, though a little bit spicy for me. I found out that I would be given 240 yuan for food every month, which is just enough to eat in the school canteen. This is a really good deal! I really don't have to pay for anything here-- just a few things but everything is so cheap. 
    So after eating lunch, the group walked around campus a little bit-- Rodger told us a little bit about the school and the structure of the day-- Classes begin at 8 a.m., there's two hour lunch break from noon to 2p.m. and then classes resume until 5:30 or so. We still don't know when we will be teaching, which kind of makes me nervous. It seems like Rodger is always in a rush to do things and just lets us know a little bit beforehand what we're doing. After our little walk around campus, I told him about my issues with the electrical plugs and he called a guy who came soon to fix it. It seems that the thing that I had plugged in yesterday that caused a spark was okay to be plugged in today. I'm not sure what happened, but it got fixed and I got connected to the internet.
    Soon after all my appliance stuff got worked out, Rodger came back to tell me that we were all going to the police station to get our temporary residency permits. We took a bus to the train station stop (the last stop, apparently) and walked to the police station, which was a pretty small place. We sat around and waited for about 20 minutes and finally left. It was kind of boring. Some people wanted to buy cell phones so we all got on the bus and went to Carrefour, which I think is like a big shopping center like a Wal-Mart. I already had a cell phone so I just stood around for a while. Unfortunately, it took a lot longer than expected. I had an interesting conversation with Noah about hippies, hipsters, yuppies and the forgotten X generation-- his generation (those born in the 60's and 70's I guess).
    When we finally left, we got on the bus to go back to school. We found a little place to eat that was across the street from the school. I got a bowl of noodles for 4 yuan. It was a little bit spicy but quite good. I think the noodles were fresh, which made them really yummy. I ate pretty quickly, as I was really hungry from waiting around. We walked back to the school, I took a shower, and then began writing! Noah stopped by so I could hear a singer -- Emily Wells, and so I could play ABBA for him, since he didn't know who they were. We talked for a bit as I waited for my laundry to finish. I hung up some string in my "study" so that I could dry my clothes. There was no string hung up outside on my balcony and there's a huge bee/wasp/scary insect nest outside so I don't want to hang my clothes up out there anyway. So, I hung a piece of string from one door handle to another and put my clothes up to dry. It's kind of nice because it fills up the space in this empty room. Maybe I'll have a big dance party.

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